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Dead If You Don’t by Peter James – a review

It is always exciting for me when I get invited to review a novel, no matter who the author is. However I have to admit to being extra excited when that invite comes with a chance to read a novel from one of my favourite authors, in this case Peter James.

Dead If You Don’t is Peter James’ 14th novel featuring Detective Roy Grace. In this story Roy is faced with the kidnapping of a young boy. The boys father is Kipp Brown, a wealthy businessman who is struggling to repay gambling debts. During a visit to a local football match he loses his son, and soon receives a ransom demand. During the same football match, a bomb is suspected and Roy seems to channel his inner Jack Reacher in order to save those in the stadium. It soon becomes clear that there may be links with these two cases.

This was an interesting story set in the world of Albanian gangs, kidnap and bitcoins. The story was set out in hours which once you got into the flow meant that it zipped along really quickly. The pressure that all parties were under was immense. The chapters where you ‘saw’ Mungo and his plight you could actually feel his fear emanating from the page.

I always enjoy an outing with Roy Grace although this felt to me a slight departure from the usual. The city of Brighton was not as apparent within the story in terms of descriptions, unless you count the numerous references to their football club! Equally, to me there was less about Roy Grace’s family, and especially his slightly sinister son Bruno, than we have had in previous books. However that’s probably just that there wasn’t space in what was a very intense storyline set over a couple of days.

Definitely one for fans of Roy Grace yet could easily be read as a stand alone without the need for detailed background knowledge. I would as always highly recommend the Roy Grace series, and this was no exception.

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What You Want To See by Kristen Lepionka – a review BLOG TOUR

What You Want to SeeIn What You Want To See, Roxanne is a private investigator who takes on what she thinks is going to be a nice easy case. Arthur thinks his fiancée is cheating on him and wants Roxanne to follow her. Unfortunately her case starts to get more complicated when the woman she is following turns up dead. The police think that Arthur is the killer. However as Roxanne starts to investigate things get more complicated and the body count rises. Arthur’s fiancée was a lot more complicated than she at first seemed and Roxanne needs to find out exactly what she is wrapped up in.

I love a novel with a good female protagonist, and What You want to see is definitely one of those.

This is a good story that is full of twists and turns and moves along at a decent pace. There are a lot of characters within the novel. Not only Roxanne’s family and friends including ex-lovers and next door neighbours, but also those involved in the case. There were brothers and sisters, step-families, gangsters, and antiques dealers, all mixing to create a very intriguing case. Yet the real star iof this story is definitely Roxanne herself. She is clever, strong, funny and dedicated to her job. I am a huge fan of Stephanie Plum (find her in the Janet Evanovich novels) and I think in Roxanne, Stephanie has got a run for her money.

This is Kristen’s second novel and I do think that you would benefit from reading the first one. In this novel although Roxanne’s drinking and her mixed up love life are discussed, she seems a lot more sorted in this novel so despite the whisky in her coffee it might not be fully apparent without the background. However this still works as a stand-alone novel. The story was self-contained so don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first one. The quality of the writing means that the story flows smoothly but there are enough background details included so you know the gist of what happened previously. I would say however that once you have read this you will want to read more about Roxanne!

If you like your novels female led and enjoy reading good crime stories then I would definitely recommend What You Want To See by Kristen Lepionka. To find out what other bloggers thought of the novel visit the other stops on the tour. Tomorrow it is the turn of www.thrillerbooksjournal.com.

To find out more about the author ad over to from first page to last

 

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The Old You by Louise Voss – Q and A BLOG TOUR

The Old You by Louise Voss is about Lynn and her husband Ed. Ed is diagnosed with dementia and then strange things start happening. Alongside the fact that there was suspicious around the death of Ed’s first wife Lynn starts to wonder who she can trust. This was an interesting read that I really enjoyed therefore I’m delighted to be able to welcome Louise Voss to acrimereadersblog.

Thanks for joining me Louise. The Old You is a great story, what inspired it?

The basis of the inspiration was dementia-related (although I hasten to add, this is not a book about dementia). I had to watch my beloved mother endure it for years, and the potential for a crime novel really struck me at the time – life with someone who has that illness is never straightforward; it’s never a case of lie versus truth. The sufferer is always convinced of the veracity of their statements, and these are often incorrect. But because he/she truly believes them, they can’t be accused of lying – they aren’t lying. This can be very confusing to them as well as the people around them as they attempt to extrapolate what’s true and what isn’t. And then there’s the potential for exploitation which, sadly, is also huge…

Have you always been a writer?

In some ways, yes, in so far as I have always loved it, and used to write lots of stories as a kid.  I kept diaries for many years too. I’ve been a professional writer for eighteen years now – I put my writing ‘anniversary’ at the point of signing my first publishing deal, for To Be Someone, which was in April 2000.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

I don’t really have a typical working day.  I aim to do a minimum of 1300 words a day if I’m working on a novel, and if I’m in the zone I’ll keep going. It’s the admin – life and work – that takes up the most time!  I don’t know how writers sit down at their desks at 9am and stay there till 4 or 5pm or whatever.  I can only assume that they have people to do everything else for them – grocery shopping, paying bills, childcare (although I don’t have this anymore now mine’s all grown up), etc!

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

A long game of tennis in the sun followed by an even longer lunch with friends and wine…

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

I’m a huge reader. I don’t think you can be a good writer unless you read as well. The writers whose books I always automatically seek out are all women (although obviously I do enjoy books by men too!): Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Tammy Cohen, Erin Kelly, Kate Rhodes, Fiona Cummins, Susie Steiner, Robert Galbraith aka JKR… I could go on.

There are some great names there that I’m a big fan off too. Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

I’m halfway through a new whodunnit, about the manager of a gift shop of a small stately home in the Surrey Hills.  She lives a secluded existence these days, nobody knows that she used to be in a chart-topping band. She quit the limelight suddenly after a brutal kidnap and assault almost cost her life. Now, twenty years later, word of her identity and whereabouts gets out, and people close to her start dying under mysterious circumstances… Someone’s after her again – but who and why?

That sounds fascinating. Thanks very much for joining me Louise.

To find out more about The Old You visit the other stops on the blog tour. Click below to buy The Old You which is out on the 15th May.

THE OLD YOU new cover_preview

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The Penance List by S.C Cunningham

The Penance List is the story of 3 friends and a stalker. Tara, Helen and Josie meet every week for a catch up. However they are unaware that they are being watched. David is obsessed with Tara and his obsession soon turns creepy and dangerous. This was an interesting story that flits between the current day of the three friends, David and his background. Gruesome in parts and with a lot of sex scenes it is pretty fast paced and is an easy read that will keep you hooked until the end.

Therefore I’m delighted to welcome S.C Cunningham to my blog to find out more about the author behind The Penance List.    

Hi Siobhan, thanks for joining me. Firstly I like to know what was the inspiration behind The Penance List?     

I tend to write what I know; my storylines are founded on real life experiences.

From a very young age I’ve always known that my job in life was to entertain. To drag folk kicking and screaming into a world of escapism, to situations they’ve never experienced before and have them championing characters, willing them on and punching the air with a “Yesss!”

When building a character I draw on observations of people I know or have closely watched, it’s easier to write from truth.  Luckily, I’ve had a hectic life path, worked in a few fascinating industries, and been able to study a wide range of characters.

In a nutshell my path has been – am British born of Irish parents, was plonked from the age of 8yrs into an Irish Catholic Nuns Boarding School. After a short spell of studying law (realising there is too much injustice in our systems) I went on to work as a fashion model, married a rock musician and worked in the music to film industry. Got divorced and then as a single mum worked within football, sports celebrity management, horseracing, children’s charities, and more recently for the Police as a Crime Investigator – Intel Analyst, Major Crime Team, Wanted and Absconder Units. Am proud mum to a wonderful daughter (Contemporary Artist) and owned by three dogs.

For the past ten years I’ve been drawing on these experiences as inspiration to write steamy Psychological Thrillers ‘The David Trilogy’ and gritty Paranormal Crime Romance ‘The Fallen Angel Series’.

The Penance List was kick-started by an incident that happened to me in my twenties when I was living in London. Quite frighteningly and out of the blue, I crossed paths with a prolific serial attacker who targeted single girls living alone in basement flats in Notting Hill and Olympia. It was then that I realised evil can sit around any corner, learn to trust you gut.

This male haunted London for a long period of time; he was astute, studied his victims for days and avoided capture. I believe he attacked 14 or so women, luckily I got away unscathed (must have an Angel looking out for me) and managed to help Police ID him with a photo fit. He was a nice looking, well dressed, calm, cold, precise and unhurried. He didn’t say a word, just stared, seeming to revel in the fear he instilled.

 I remember looking into his face and asking why? I needed to understand how a human could be that cruel to another. He had the look of a spoilt mother’s boy; I guessed his mother must have loved him at some stage, but what life changing event or who had turned him from a sweet little boy into an evil adult? The seed for complex protagonist David Howard was sown.

 Using a mix of my own experiences (nuns, boarding school, modelling, the press, celebrity management and fun loving career girlfriends) I created a fantasy world of manipulation, shining a light on the ripple effect carnage that the misuse of power, religion and passion can cause.

 I enjoy complex characters that slowly reveal themselves, are not who they seem and engage with the reader, pulling at heartstrings and worst fears. I try to create a person who the reader would either like to hang out with or see as their worst enemy. Someone they feel empathy for and understand their choices, right or wrong. Someone they champion and punch the air with a resounding “Yessss!”

 And because I’m an old romantic who loves a bit of drama, my books also have to have a few oh-so-sexy personalities with complicated love lives, evil exes, edge of seat fear, twists, turns, steamy romances and cheeky laugh out loud banter.

Working on a series allows you to build characters that hopefully people will fall in love with and get excited about. David is a very bad person, but fans often write saying they’re hooked; they love his charismatic charm warts and all, and can’t wait to see what he does next. They understand and champion the boy, but fear the man he has become. The book has been adapted to film script, so we may see David on our screens one day. I love working on this character so much that I have dragged him into ‘The Fallen Angel Series’ where he causes a bit of more chaos in the skies Pleased be warned, The Penance List is a sexy thriller, think Psycho meets 50 Shades. It can be a little naughty at times and may not be for everyone. But if you’re brave enough, grab a glass of vino, close the bedroom door and read alone.

I’d definitely recommend reading this with wine in hand! Have you always been a writer?

For nearly twenty years I have been compiling storylines. My Crime Investigation works keeps me busy writing also, there are a lot of reports to complete for CPS and Court.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

My crime investigation work consists of arriving at a Police Station, attending a briefing, being given a prisoner and dealing with his or her case; sourcing evidence, speaking to witnesses and victims, conducting safeguarding, disclosing to Legal Advisors, interviewing the prisoner, and depending on the offence and if charged, liaising with CPS and preparing files for Court.

My writing work involves somehow cutting out the rest of the world and becoming mushroom-like reclusive. I tend to try and back out of the world and everything that’s going on around me for days before, emptying my over-zealous mind, to fill it again with another complex fictional world.

On a writing day, I take the dogs for a beach walk, traveling via the back roads to avoid conversations. Am easily drawn into chatting with folk – dog walkers are a lovely friendly bunch. 

On the beach I start the process of thinking about scenes for the day’s writing. My work tends to have complicated spaghetti storylines which I need to be on top of – tough on an old bird like me

I get home and set the scene of my writing room; smelly candles, music, good lighting, warmth, quiet, nibbley easy-to-eat food and plenty of drinks. The dogs, exhausted from their walk, sleep at my feet. It’s nice to have another heart beat in the room, writing can be lonely.

I sit at the computer for between 5 to 10 hours, depending how well it’s going, and then log off with a celebratory glass of vino or cheeky gin and tonic.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

I love the beach, in all kinds of weather. The sea seems to calm my soul and is great for rinsing out storylines and the clutter of crime. I also love catching up with a good friend, putting the world to rights over a cup of coffee or a cheeky glass of Prosecco.

Movies are another passion of mine, I could quite happily sit in a cinema all afternoon watching 2/3 movies back to back. I write with film in mind.

I agree on the beach front. Some of my best walks have been on the beach in freezing conditions! Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

My reading tastes reveal a pretty primitive narrow spectrum of thriller romance and action – Martina Cole, James Patterson, John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Colin Dexter, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Dan Brown, Patricia Cornwell,  John Le Carre, Ian Fleming and my uber favourite  is Lee Child, although I’ve not forgiven him for selling the rights to Tom Cruise. Tom is wonderful I’m sure, but he is no Jack Reacher… (sigh).

Very true. I must say although I like a Lee Child book I have avoided the film! Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on?

I am currently at the edit stage of book two of The Fallen Angel Series ‘Karma’, and have started the final book in The David Trilogy ‘For My Sins’. Thank you for talking with me.

Thanks so much for answering my questions today.

To find out more about The Penance List make sure you visit the other stops on the blog tour.

The Penance List Full Tour Banner

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Keeper by Johana Gustawsson – a review BLOG TOUR

It was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to be part of the blog tour for the second novel by Johana Gustawsson. I had read Block 46 and it was one of my stand out novels of the year, so there  is always the worry that the second one won’t be quite so good. However I needn’t have been concerned, Keeper is a stunning novel from an author being hailed as the ‘Queen of French Noir’.

In Keeper we again meet Profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells. An actor has been abducted from her home in a case similar to the Tower Hamlets murders ten years previously. Over in Sweden a body has been found, again identical to those in Tower Hamlets. However the perpetrator of those crimes is in prison. Have they got the wrong man locked up or is there a copycat? Alongside this is the Whitechapel of 1888. Jack the Ripper is at large and women are running scared.

This was another superb read that was absolutely gripping. From the outset you are drawn into a dark and disturbing world both of modern day serial killings and Victorian fear. I have always been fascinated by the Jack the Ripper story, the phantom killer whose crimes were never solved. Therefore I was utterly fascinated by these chapters. The writing is such that the sights and sounds of Victorian England completely engulf you and you feel like you are living through the filth and stench. Yet it seamlessly switches into modern day terror without any interruption to the fast flow of story.

I really like the characters in this novel, and although I still find Alexis a little annoying as a pair they have a great dynamic. One of the things I also think works well within this is the fact that there are lots of peripheral characters including parents, partners, other officers, yet for me they all had a place and were easy to keep track of. I love the fact that despite the majority of the book being very dark and seedy there were moments of humour that really lift the story.

I cannot recommend this novel enough. It is both a fascinating story linking past and present, and a thought provoking read that will stay with you long after you have finished it.

Make sure you visit the other stops on the blog tour, and get your copy here:

Keeper blog poster 2018

 

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What falls between the cracks by Robert Scragg – a review

Last month was the York Literature Festival. I was absolutely thrilled when the festival offered to do a book collection for Bookcase for All and they were fantastic in publicising the project throughout the festival. Therefore I was very excited when I found out that the final event was going to be a Crime themed one at Waterstones.

The theme of the event was Northern Noir and it was a discussion by two authors Robert Scragg and AA Dhand. Obviously as always I cannot resist buying new books so I had a very enjoyable evening and left with two new signed books.

The first I read was What Falls Between the Cracks by Robert Scragg. It starts with a severed hand being found, which DNA  identify as having belonged to Natasha. She hasn’t been seen for 30 years but nobody has reported her missing. It is down to detectives Porter and Styles to find out what has happened, and why her family didn’t track her down. Their case soon becomes even more complicated when it links with another investigation and sparks begin to fly.

This was certainly an accomplished debut novel. It starts relatively slowly which draws you in. As the pace of the investigation ramps up so does the pace of the novel. The writing flows naturally, especially the conversation elements. However there were an awful lot of characters which it was sometimes hard to keep track of in the middle, but as the story progressed things slotted into place.

I liked the characters of Jake Porter and Nick Styles. They complemented each other very well and I enjoyed the banter between them.  The story itself is also good, you know early on who the ‘baddies’ are but as the story progresses as with all good crime fiction things are never quite what they seem.

Overall this was a good read and I look forward to reading more featuring Porter and Styles. It was also a fantastic closing event to a great festival.

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The Intrusions by Stav Sherez – a review

I’m sat here typing this in front of my laptop which has a little camera hole at the top. I have to say I am rather freaked out having just finished The Intrusions by Stav Sherez. I have read Stav Sherez’s previous novels and thoroughly enjoyed them so after hearing him talk in Hull I had to break my self-imposed ban on buying any more books (that day) and picked up a copy of the The Intrusions. I’m glad I did, despite it freaking me out a little.

The Intrusions starts when a clearly distressed young woman arrives at the station claiming her friend has been abducted and that the man is going to come back for her. At first it seems to Detectives Carrigan and Miller that it is a case of someone abducting woman from a back packers hostel. However it soon becomes much more sinister. It is tricky to say more about the story without giving anything away, but it involves online stalking and webcams.

I am a big fan of this pair of detectives. Geneva Miller is a strong woman who despite her occasionally annoying habits I really like. The pairing with the slightly gruff and reckless Jack Carrigan works really well.

The plot is fascinating. It is a story that you think is going to be one thing, yet twists and turns into something else entirely. One of the things I really like about these novels is the style of writing which seems to flow effortlessly. Whilst it is clearly fiction by the end you feel like you have learnt something and somehow your thoughts on society have changed slightly. I like novels that make you think differently, and this will certainly do that. However this in no way detracts from the story which kept me gripped throughout. It was a very modern thriller that is all the more scary because of the very real premise it is based on.

This is the third novel to feature Carrigan and Miller however I think it would still work well as a standalone. If you like police procedurals with a modern day moral tale included then I would thoroughly recommend those by Stav Sherez. However you might want to disable your laptop camera before you start reading!

 

 

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